To The Editor:
The Tri County School District is asking for a $40,785,000 bond to upgrade and consolidate the current school system in Howard City. I attended the Informational Community Meeting and heard one excuse, as expected, that I keep hearing about why this proposal should be approved. One lady at the meeting carried on and on, very passionately, about how good this bond will be “Good for the children, good for her children, good for her grandchildren”. She got a loud applause from some of the audience. I would say, a rather knee jerk applause. I do not think anyone of those applauding stopped and thought about the impact this bond will have on our children or how “Not good for the children” it really is. I cannot blame the people applauding. I think people often hear the words “Good for the children” and instantly react approvingly or feel pressured into reacting approvingly, without stopping for just a second and questioning ”Is it really good for the children?”.
I would venture to say this is one of those times that some people are dangerously reacting to that phrase and not really thinking about what that phrase implies. Not everything is “Good for the children”. Especially this bond.
This bond hurts us all by increasing taxpayer indebtedness. This is 25 years of new taxes. Children that are in 1st grade now will be paying for this for 13 years after graduation, 13 years! This will be either passed on to them though increased rent or through higher taxes when they buy their first home. Some of our older children that are still in school may even be paying on this bond until they are in their early 40's!
Over the life of this bond, interest will almost equal principal.
This means that for the proposed $40 million dollar bond, tax payers will be required to pay a little more than $73 million in tax dollars to cover the principal and interest. With $33 million going to interest over the span of 25 years, that’s an average of $1,320,000 a year wasted away on interest. Let that sink in for a minute. One million, three hundred and twenty thousand dollars. All of that interest put into investors pockets and not into the school system. $1,320,000 of your tax dollars and your children's tax dollars, making someone else rich.
What happened to the sinking fund money and repairs? Will there be another?
Another question that needs to be asked and answered, is how all the current maintenance on the existing buildings the school board wants to upgrade (and close), was allowed to pile up in the first place so as to require a large loan to facilitate the repairs? A couple of years back, a sinking fund was proposed and passed, but not even half of the proposed repairs have been completed. If there isn’t enough money in the annual operating budget to maintain and repair existing facilities, how do school officials expect to maintain the new larger facilities and equipment? Will they allow the new buildings to fall into disrepair and start asking for another bond to repair those buildings in a few years?
This bond is wasteful and teaches our children to spend foolishly. Yes, we all went to schools paid for by taxpayers, but we did not go to school to be in elaborate buildings, we went to be educated! Most community members, including many of us opposed to this bad proposal, do feel we need to upgrade our schools, but we should upgrade them in a way that is smart and cost effectively. There is no doubt that education is a worthy investment, but lets carefully consider new ways to ensure we are getting an outstanding return on our investment. Taking out a loan that could end up costing taxpayers more in property taxes is not the way to accomplish this. Let’s not burden our children and our community with 25 years of excessive debt just because some people in the community feel the need to compete with neighboring districts for “modern looking” schools.
This bond proposal is not good for our families, not good for the community nor is it “Good for the Children”.
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